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Community Health opens toll-free line for patients who might be data breach victims

ST. PETERSBURG — Patients at Bayfront Health System's clinics still don't know if their personal information, including Social Security numbers, was stolen during a massive cyberattack on Community Health System, Bayfront's parent company. But local clinics are referring patients to a toll-free number set up by Community.

That number is 1-855-205-6951.

On Wednesday, the line consisted of several pre-recorded messages about the cyberattack, thought to have occurred in April and June, affecting 4.5 million patients nationwide. Patients are told they will be notified by letter if their information was compromised. They will also be offered free identity theft protection. Vulnerable patients include those who saw or were referred to a clinic doctor up to five years ago, the company has said.

Experts recommend patients start checking bank statements, change passwords on critical online accounts and even check their credit report. The loss of Social Security numbers, combined with basic personal information, puts people at significant risk of identity theft, said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance.

"You should be proactive even if you don't get notified your data was lost," he said.

Kaiser also warned that other criminals might see the recent data breach as an opportunity. He said patients who get emails requesting them to update their information because of the security breach should beware. Don't provide any information, don't click on any links and don't even call a phone number in the email, he said. Patients should call their doctors' offices directly.

The data breach affects patients who were treated at the company's clinics, not those who were solely hospital patients, the company has said.

In the Tampa Bay area, the company's affiliated clinics include Bayfront Health Medical Group locations and such offices as My Gynecologist in Spring Hill and Women's Health of Pasco in Dade City.

Community Health opens toll-free line for patients who might be data breach victims 08/20/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 9:02pm]
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